Out there, beyond the abyss of night
Beyond the lightlessness that lies behind my own
Eye – worse, my inner eye –
A dog is howling.
I know the black orb of its stare
A globe of satin, you might say of it; but only if some
Stray ray, lost in a forlorn expanse of rubble and
Scrubland shade, could catch it first.
Otherwise there’s nothing, beyond the taint of
Nothing, or what is arid and shattered and forfeited and
Essence of dog. I feel the reflex of its throat:
A taut, fortuitous clench of matter,
Pursuing the unenlightened purpose of the flesh,
Bellowing, hour after hour, because it cannot know better.
An autocracy of connected nerves, blazing beneath
The skin, like fireworks
To an ancient purpose, spinning out the generations,
Spanning the centuries with rank immediacies.
There is no greyness in the life of a beast,
No room for mitigation.
It’s not the bite that scares me most
Nor yet uncritical love, doting without thought,
A hopeless animal loyalty which I can’t reciprocate
(And yes, that – that alone, inane – must give me shame)
But rather, the perfection of the bullet form
Of a beast: a muzzle on pistons
On flanks geared to indomitable lungs:
Where great incisors spark to the heart’s dynamo track
Meshing with a darkness in me – that void for which I fear
To crave: some canker within the lonely, loveless, secret self
Of all men, one that sucks its salt from blood:
Not prim civility, not decorous failure,
Not lame equivocation, nor a mealy compromise –
Not anything that keeps us sugar-sweet, and
Acquiescent. And down there, fawning up.
My ancestry is an iron clamour.
Transfiguration of power
From brute, mute bulk
Lately inanimate, or merely dead: cracked bone and marrow
And sinew for a gouging mouth, but now
All meshed, a frenzy of livid wire,
A spark that burns through an age, into the scarred
Hide of this old world, and surmounts nothing.
One day, when you and I are gone, when
Conscience has succumbed,
When oceans boil, and the sea gives up its dead,
A dog will bark, beneath the furnace of the sun.
A duet of fools they’ll be: one on high, one far below,
Raging at each other
From vanity of self-interest, the imperative to survive.
Two faces older than time, both in a frenzy
At the need not to die, out to buy
Time without end – as the life flames from each one’s brazen mask.
For, as a life closes (if life exists just for itself),
All the wide celestial sphere dies too,
Burst with the bubble of perceived things.
For this is the celebrity of dogs: seeing all, seeing nothing.